North Carolina researchers study online underage alcohol purchases
A recent study out of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, indicates that online purchases of alcohol among underage teens may be easier than authorities desire. North Carolina officials, including local law enforcement agencies and the North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement division aggressively seek to enforce North Carolina underage drinking and underage possession laws. This blog has previously discussed a wide variety of charges brought in an effort to curb underage drinking in the state.
The recent university study suggests that nearly 60 percent of online purveyors of alcohol make little, if any effort at all, to verify that a customer is of age to purchase alcohol. The study was conducted with the assistance of eight volunteers, all between the ages of 18 and 20 years of age. The volunteers were reportedly granted immunity from prosecution for underage alcohol offenses by prosecutors to participate in the study.
The volunteers ordered alcohol products, including wine, beer or other adult beverages, from 100 popular websites that sell the alcoholic products online. Researchers say that 45 orders were received by the underage volunteers, while 28 orders were rejected by the delivery company after attempts to verify the age of the purchaser failed upon delivery. Eleven orders were not delivered when no one was present to accept the delivery. Sixteen deliveries failed for reasons unrelated to age, such as technical glitches.
The online purchases generally used private delivery companies, such as FedEx or UPS, as it is illegal to mail alcohol through the U.S. Postal Service. The researchers at the University of North Carolina say that loosened restrictions for online sales of alcohol has led to an increase in access to alcohol for minors. The U.S. Supreme Court held in 2005 that laws banning sales of wine across state lines were unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause.
The recent findings of the North Carolina research were published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
Source: Bloomberg, “Underage Drinkers Buy Alcohol Online With Few Barriers,” Michelle Fay Cortez, May 7, 2012